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Groin injury keeps Chargers' Gaither out of practice

The SportsXchange

Left tackle Jared Gaither didn't practice Thursday, so maybe having a long week will aid the Chargers.

San Diego's game against the Denver Broncos isn't until Monday night, and coach Norv Turner said Wednesday that he was confident Gaither would play.

Gaither strained his groin in the later stages of Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints. Considering his track record of required healing time, it's not outlandish to speculate he'll be challenged to return by Monday.

If he can't go, the Chargers would turn back to Mike Harris, an undrafted free agent. That was their situation the first three games, when Gaither was out with a back injury, and the results were mixed.

The Broncos' pass rush, led by Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil, combined with Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers' fondness of holding the ball late could make the play at left tackle critical come Monday.

"I certainly think the more game experience you have, the more you improve on feeling the rush and feeling how long you can hang on to it, but I've always tried to be a guy that hangs on to it until the last second," said Rivers, who was sacked five times by New Orleans.

"Bless our guys up front, obviously you want to protect them and not have them block forever but continue to hold it as long as you can to let your receivers have a chance to get open. Anytime I flush or decide to throw it away, it's with all intentions of what's best for our team on that play and to win the game. It's not a matter of worrying about getting hit."

However, with Harris possibly at left tackle, the hits on Rivers could increase.

Coach Norv Turner was asked if Rivers, who has been sacked 14 times, has been hit too much.

"He did in a couple of games," Turner said. "We had the rookie left tackle there, the rookie free agent. We beat Tennessee, but (Rivers) got hit a little bit more than I'd like. In the Atlanta game, they got after it pretty good. I didn't think he got hit as much in Kansas City, and last week for most of the game I thought he was pretty clean."

Clean to some might not might the same to others, but a Rivers uniform free of grass stains Monday night should mean good things for the Chargers.

They might have to attempt it without their starting left tackle.
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